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hardcore_gamer

A question about standalone games and copyright

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So in order to for a standalone game (that is, a mod that is basically it's own iwad and runs without needing doom or doom 2) to be legal, it has to be it's own thing, meaning you can't use the levels, sounds or sprites from the original game. But in actual practice, how strictly is this actually enforced? I am not seeing any lawsuits over the various Doom 64 mods for Doom 2 that directly rip Doom 64 resources over into the mod, including the sounds and all the sprites. Nor does anybody seem to get sued whenever copyrighted MIDI songs are used in Doom 2 mods. And don't get me started on all the texture packs that have been made for Doom 2 that are literally just textures from other games. Or the countless online flash games that use sprites and sounds from other games.

 

So in actual practice, as long as the standalone game is free how strict do you really need to be with copyrighted stuff? Don't get me wrong I am not suggesting that it's ok to just literally steal entire enemies or levels, but if say you decided to use some weapon sounds from some other games (finding good free weapon sounds is really hard, and I sure don't know how to make them) would it really make any difference?

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Assume Copyrights are forever.  Unless the rights holder explicitly says otherwise.

 

Thanks Disney.

/Thread

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What happens is unpredictable. If you are lucky nothing will happen, you may get away with a C&D, but if you have to do with some real hard-ass you might get sued. It also very much depends on the country you live in. The general advice should be "Don't do it."

 

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1 hour ago, TMD said:

Assume Copyrights are forever.  Unless the rights holder explicitly says otherwise.

 

Thanks Disney.

/Thread

 

49 minutes ago, Graf Zahl said:

What happens is unpredictable. If you are lucky nothing will happen, you may get away with a C&D, but if you have to do with some real hard-ass you might get sued. It also very much depends on the country you live in. The general advice should be "Don't do it."

 

I understand your points and largely agree. If I made a game filled with high profile copyrighted content it would probably not end well. But on the other hand, why did nobody care when Kaiser created Doom 64 Absolution? Or When MarkIV created Brutal Doom 64, which not only uses content from Doom 64 but flat out makes the entire damn game playable for free? And it's not like these are low-profile mods, actual articles have been written about them in high-profile gaming magazines:

 

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/brutal-doom-64/

 

And the youtube trailer has over 200 thousand views. 200 fucking thousand.

 

How come he hasn't been sued by anybody?

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I'm no lawyer, but copyright is a weirdly muddy business. You could also ask how, as everyone's grandma knows, OG Doom got away with a soundtrack that's mostly riffs stolen from well-known metal groups (not to mention textures scanned from books, pictures of toy guns, etc.). A number of 90s FPSs also, IIRC, took the term 'Doom clone' to heart and used light edits of actual Doom textures. I don't even know if Laura Beyer's Doom ever actually had legal action brought against it. I guess the lesson is it all comes down to who actually wants to take the time to battle it out. In a surprising number of cases, outside of instances where there's some reasonable chance of economic harm or concrete advantage, it seems like few people or companies want to go to Prince-like levels of intellectual property defense. But that also means that if you can't live with the your pet project getting taken down, you really gotta have all your ducks in a row just in case.

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Most hobbyists/modders like Sgt Mark are just getting away with it because people turn a blind eye and the copyright holder is not taking action. Any time they want, Bethesda can clamp down hard and force everyone to totally abandon and remove their projects even if they contain 1 simple asset lifted from Doom, or replace the asset. Some of the copyright holders of other old games are defunct, so that's not going to be a problem.

 

I think we are lucky to have this freedom and I hope things stay this way. Let's be a little discreet and not focus too much on these sensitive matters, heh.

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1 hour ago, hardcore_gamer said:

How come he hasn't been sued by anybody?

Three simple things.

1- The copyright status for Doom 64 is muddy. How much is id's and Midway's is pretty hard to say. Anything that isn't Midway suing for art assets would be a pretty interesting case to follow.

2- Doom is known by its modding, and cracking down on that isn't much of a good thing for anyone.

3- The creator lives in Brazil, and getting a local law firm involved would be more effort than they'd earn out of it. A C&D letter would be the only affordable thing.

 

Of course, I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, laws may vary across jurisdictions, ask your parents before calling, etc.

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In my experience, if you want to do something but aren't sure if you can, you have two options: Option A is to ask the person or people in charge or who hold the copyright or whatever for the particular thing you want to do, in which case you will then get a resounding NO as well as being on their "watch list" for any attempts in the future shall you try. Option B is to "just do it" and will result in nothing happening, ever. Basically it goes like this: if you ask, you get told no. If you just do it, nobody cares.

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